Ecobee has changed its marketing strategy and is now offering its SmartCamera, SmartThermostat, SmartCensor and ecobee app as a bundle coined the Sweet Dreams Baby Kit. After 6 years of searching I believe this is the child monitoring system for me. I’ve purchased a few VTech monitors in the past that have been functional, but lack the bells and whistles that the ecobee system provides. A basic VTech monitor will ring you in at over $100CAD, with the Wi-Fi monitors costing significantly more.
The ecobee Sweet Dreams Baby Kit comes in at a higher price point of $389.99, which might be shocking, but when you break it down piece by piece it is a competitive price and offers a savings of $39.99 when you purchase the package altogether. The other brands of monitors definitely won’t include the ecobee app, camera customization, SmartThermostat or SmartSensor, nor will they come close to the ecobee SmartCamera in quality.
Not only is the camera model beautiful but the 1080p image quality itself is fantastic. I can see my children in full detail, not having to squint to tell if their eyes are open. It is so detailed that when zoomed close enough I can even see my baby breathing. I can easily tell if the noises they’re making are just from a dream or because they’re fully awake. We have two children that share a room, so the 180 degree field of view is a godsend, letting me keep an eye on both children at the same time. Even if the SmartCamera didn’t have the excellent 180° pan and tilt features — which it does — the camera offers a very wide angle covering the majority of their room. The camera also has excellent infrared LEDs so the great quality continues no matter the time of day.
First time parents will love the fact that the ecobee app gives you the ability to check in on your little one from anywhere, even when you’re not home. You don’t get that with traditional baby monitors. Even as an experienced parent I find myself peeking in on them from anywhere, sometimes just to see what funny position they’re sleeping in that night. The app sends an automatic push notification when it detects movement, and has a sensitivity range so it can tell the difference between a baby slightly rolling over or completely crawling out of bed and takes and saves a snapshot when it detects movement.
The camera and app work together, giving parents the ability to speak directly through your phone into your child’s room. This helps with my older child as I’m able to tell him to get back into bed when he tries to escape. The camera also has the ability to hook up to Amazon’s Alexa, allowing you to play soothing music or white noise directly to the room. With a small baby who is constantly wiggling out of her pyjamas, I’m thankful for the wireless SmartSensor with its 5-year battery life and 60 foot range. I can check the room’s temperature in the app without risking waking her, and adjust the SmartThermostat based on what she decided to fall asleep in that night. The thermostat also has Alexa built in allowing you to use voice controls and connect to smart speakers using Bluetooth. The SmartThermostat can be controlled manually, by voice or through the app.
I appreciate that the camera can grow with your family as you transition out of the need for a baby monitor. It can double as a security camera and the app allows for that change with ease. You can set up a customized activity zone that detects motion in one specific area rather than the entire room as well. SmartCamera Smart Focus will automatically pan and zoom to keep people in view which is helpful when your little ones are on the move. I’ll definitely appreciate this feature when we switch from a crib to a toddler bed.
The SmartCamera and app have the ability to take both screenshots and video recording. For me, that is mostly a novelty as I like to document the strange things my kids do while they are asleep. The service also requires a paid membership which isn’t required for the system over all, only to access those features. I believe this service will be more of use when you transition from baby monitor to security camera and would consider the purchase then.
After going through a few different monitors that were specifically for babies, I can tell this is a camera that wasn’t built originally with parents and families in mind. Though it has a lot of great features, there are areas that it still lacks. The camera has continuous audio monitoring, and though this sounds like a good thing, I found it more bothersome than anything. We play constant white noise in our children’s room, so with continuous audio on overnight, I had to hear everything they heard. Any time I would use the camera’s talk feature, I would hear my voice loudly play back through the camera and into my phone as well. Without talking or white noise the continuous audio is almost silent though, I heard nothing else in the room unless there was a cry, which is great news.
I also found an issue with the monitor display overnight. Usually a baby monitor will have the ability to shut off, and then when there is noise click on to show you the sound and picture. The SmartCamera is all or nothing. The audio and video both must remain completely on or completely off, which is counter-productive overnight. I found a workaround by leaving the camera app full screen on my phone with the continuous audio on — accepting that I had to hear the white noise — and then turning my phone’s Always On Display on. This way if I heard a cry, I’d click my screen on and not have to fiddle trying to find an app on my phone while half asleep. However, this caused an issue with my new-model phone on more than one night stating that “some apps or processes are overloading the system (CPU) and need to be closed”, listing the ecobee app as the issue. So this app isn’t really meant to be left on long-term, which is really what parents need overnight.
The company may argue that it has push notifications for this reason, but the notification only makes a sound if your device is not on silent, and even then it’s for movement, not sound. Not to mention, parents, specifically mothers, are programmed to hear their children cry, not hear a beep from an app. It would be much more helpful if the app was more geared toward parents, rather than security breaches. In the future I would hope to see an option to have the video and audio click on over your devices Always On Display when there was a sudden noise.
The ecobee SmartCamera also relies on Wi-Fi to function. On two separate occasions, on two different devices we found that the camera was not connecting properly to the internet. It would be fine on my phone, but not on my husband’s even though we were in the same room. This happened once overnight, so had I not been close to their room, I wouldn’t have heard the baby wake. The SmartCamera is not functional if you lose the internet. This could happen with power outages as well, though even a regular baby monitor would require power to be on to function.
Though I’ve listed many negatives for the device, the ecobee camera still outshines regular monitors marketed directly for babies in a lot of ways. The ecobee app may still be missing some features, but apps can be updated. The SmartCamera, SmartThermostat, SmartSensor and ecobee app were simple to set up once connected to Wi-Fi, so there is no need to fear a higher-tech version of the usual family marketed baby monitors. The ecobee technology is ages ahead of its competitors. I’d highly recommend the ecobee Sweet Dreams Baby Kit as it’s an excellent baby monitoring system with smart features and crisp, clear video quality. It is well worth the investment and will grow with you as your family grows.